Abbie B., age 23, Kansas


Two weeks today since I left Hirams.  No letter in all that time.  This is a new settlement.  A year ago, I do not think there was a white woman within 20 miles of here, and last Winter the Osage Indians camped along the river, their teepes are still standing.  Now there are several families scattered along the River.  One day Mr. W and I walked to the river, and a skunk backed toward us, we fled in haste.

As soon as Philip gets up to Wichita to lay in some provisions we will move to his cabin down the River.  This is the Osage preemption land.  You select a claim, 160 acres, then you “fill it in.”  After you live in it 6 months and do a certain amount of improvement, you pay $1.25 an acre, and then it is yours.  Philip has been on his that long.  Now he and some men have selected one for me.  It is back from the river – when he goes to Wichita he will file on it.  He selected a suitable place, and plowed it for a garden – then with a lot of brush he harrowed it, the oxen dragging them back and forth.  I bought a lot of garden seeds from Indians.  The garden is about a mile from Wests.  I have no hoe or rake, just use a stick.  Sounds funny don’t it?  I saw three antelope one day, and a coyote. There are three deer that keep [above] my garden, but I have not seen them yet.  There is a great heard of buffalo within 20 miles of here.  The men have promised to take us with them the next time they go out.

Provision is scarce – potatoes $3 a bushel, the railroad 100 miles away; and those on claims, raising their first first crops.  We live on buffalo, fish, molasses, bread and coffee.  Native cattle are very scarce, and the Texas cows are so wild they cannot be milked.  Nevertheless, I get along very well, and will stay here until I get tired.  There is a Scotchman living acrost the river, a Mr. Ross – he was telling me that “this is such a healthy country, if they want to start a grave yard, they would have to shoot someone.”

Last week a party of Indian chiefs passed up the trail, on their way to Washington. They told someone they were going to stay “two moons.”  Perhaps I will get to see them, when they return.  I have not seen a single unmarried woman since I am here.  There are seven married women in this neighborhood and I will not likely see another all Summer.  They all tease me, and say I am a curiosity – to the many bachelors around here.

*(kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply)